The former Empire star, a three-time Emmy nominee and Oscar nominee, will take on the role of the most unpleasant orphanage proprietor played by Carol Burnett in the 1982 movie version of Annie.
It’s the first casting for the production as NBC continues its search for the musical’s young star.
“Carol Burnett, who brought Miss Hannigan to life in the classic 1982 movie, is someone I have studied and idolized as far back as I can remember,” Henson said. “So when the opportunity came to me to join NBC and this incredible group of producers, I jumped. Carol, I hope to do you proud.”
‘Annie Live!’ Musical Event Gets 2021 Holiday Season Broadcast On NBC
Named by Time as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, Henson won a Golden Globe, SAG Award and other honors for her role as Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire, which wrapped in 2020. She scored an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).
Airing on Thursday, December 2, Annie Live! is the latest musical set for a live holiday TV adaptation since NBC popularized the format with The Sound of Music Live! starring Carrie Underwood in 2013.
“When we decided to bring back NBC’s holiday musical tradition, we were looking for something that was critically acclaimed and universally beloved – and while that’s definitely the case with Annie, it absolutely applies to Taraji as well,” said Susan Rovner, Chairman of Entertainment Content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “Watching her take on this iconic role will be a thrill that has all the makings of must-watch television.”
Based on the classic comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the show features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, won seven Tony Awards and includes the now-standard songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” The musical has been adapted for film several times, including in 1982, 1999 and 2014.